Archbishop Bernard Hebda recently appointed the Rev. Nels Gjengdahl as full-time chaplain at Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria, beginning in the 2019-20 school year, according to a Holy Family press release.

Gjengdahl is the current pastor of Nativity of Mary Catholic Church in Bloomington, and has previously served as the school chaplain at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights.

Gjengdahl grew up in North St. Paul graduating from North St. Paul High School in 1999. He then attended North Dakota State University to study engineering.

While he has been a lifelong Catholic, it was at college where his faith came alive, according to the press release. After two years of studying engineering, Gjengdahl entered Cardinal Muench Seminary in Fargo, North Dakota, and graduated with a degree in Philosophy in May 2003. In the fall, he entered the St. Paul Seminary at the University of St. Thomas. He was ordained a priest in 2007 and was appointed parochial vicar at St. Odilia in Shoreview.

Following St. Odilia, Gjengdahl was assigned as parochial vicar of St. John Neumann in Eagan, as well as part-time chaplain at Saint Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights. After one year, his chaplain assignment became full-time. This change allowed him to be both a full-time teacher and a sacramental minister for the school.

He taught several subjects including morality, sacraments, church history, world religions and Catholic social teaching. After a seven-year term as school chaplain, he was assigned as pastor to Nativity of Mary Catholic Church in 2017.

When announcing the move to his congregation, Gjengdahl shared these thoughts, “I am very grateful to Archbishop Hebda and to Holy Family Catholic High School for this opportunity. I have enjoyed serving as a high school chaplain in the past and look forward to returning to this ministry. It is a rare opportunity to engage high school students in our Catholic faith on a daily basis, and it is a precious gift that I take seriously. I am excited to share Jesus Christ with the community at Holy Family in the classroom, through the sacraments, and in the entire life of the school.”

On July 1, Fr. Gjengdahl will transition from his position at Nativity of Mary Catholic Church to providing the Holy Family Catholic High School community with full-time sacramental leadership and spiritual guidance. He will teach within the theology department, support ongoing campus ministry efforts, and enhance formation opportunities for students and their families, the release stated.

This appointment comes approximately 12 months after a formal request for a full-time chaplain by school leadership to the Archdiocese leadership.

“The addition of Father Nels to our community, our theology department, and campus ministry programs creates opportunities for daily sacraments and allows us to more deeply live out our Catholic mission,” stated Holy Family President Michael Brennan.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.


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